By now all the obituaries are old news; nostalgia to be savored for a moment, then filed away with those passing thoughts of Pride, Affliction and the WEC. Strikeforce is dead, and even if its final hours were spent in glorified squash matches -- main event excluded -- and even if the production felt entirely surreal, a constant nagging reminder of just far things had fallen, it still was bittersweet to see it go.
But of course, it isn't really gone in a sense. The fighters are still here. Daniel Cormier, Jacare Souza, Gegard Mousasi; those storylines are far from over, and the list goes on. Does Luke Rockhold get a top-5 guy for his UFC debut? Does Gilbert Melendez jump right into a title shot? How good can Tarec Saffiedine actually become? It's utterly cliché, but you know what they say about when one chapter ends. Another begins, and this next one is loaded with possibilities. Rarely do this many dramatic additions to the landscape arrive all at once. Frankly, we're still feeling the effects from the last time it happened. You know, when Benson Henderson, Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis were going to falter against the upper echelon of the UFC.
That's the thing. The unknown that awaits us right now is refreshingly exciting. No one can predict what will happen when this kind of mass exodus takes place. So here's to hoping this one is as fascinating as the last one. Now, let's get to some headlines.
7 MUST-READ STORIES
Saffiedine chops down Marquardt. Evoking shades of Aldo-Faber, Tarec Saffiedine tenderized the lead leg of Nate Marquardt to sieze a unanimous decision victory and the Strikeforce welterweight strap in the final fight of the promotion's history. A 3-to-1 underdog, Saffiedine said afterward that he proved everybody wrong with his performance, and the reaction from the pros backed up his claim.
Cormier rolls, calls out Mir and Jones. As expected, Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix champion Daniel Cormier dominated Dion Staring en route to a second-round TKO victory. Following the win, Cormier was more than happy to plot his UFC path, calling out both Frank Mir and Jon Jones.
Henderson inks new UFC deal. On the heels of Eddie Alvarez's profitable UFC contract offer, reigning lightweight champion Benson Henderson signed a new eight-fight deal with Zuffa. Details have yet to be disclosed, though Henderson's contract is said to be quite lucrative.
Silva: One man can defeat Jones. Speaking with Brazilian outlet Portal do Vale Tudo, Wanderlei Silva emphasized that only one man in the world could defeat Jon Jones right now, and that man is UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva (translation via The Underground).
Palhares, Beltran deny PED allegations. After receiving nine-month suspensions for failed UFC on FX 6 drug tests, both Rousimar Palhares and Joey Beltran vehemently denied knowingly ingesting or injecting any illegal substances.
World MMA Awards results. MMA Fighting's own Ariel Helwani won "MMA Journalist of the Year" for the third consecutive year at the 2012 World MMA Awards. Congrats, Ariel! Check out complete results here.
Five fights, four lopsided finishes, and one badly battered lead leg. Not exactly WEC 53, but you could definitely do worse for a final act.
Scott Coker guided Strikeforce remarkably over the span of seven years. We haven't seen the last of him.
What event would be complete without a Gracie Breakdown to compliment it? Today's edition covers Saturday's two standout submissions (Roger Gracie's arm triangle and Jacare Souza's kimura) along with the slick flying scissor heel hook Joe Lauzon threw at Jim Miller last month.
It's been over two years since WEC 53, and I still firmly believe two things: 1.) Anthony Pettis' Showtime Kick was the greatest sporting moment I've ever had the privilege of witnessing live, and 2.) Stephan Bonnar's incredulous call of that kick may have been the greatest call in MMA history.
I don't know about now, but at the time of this writing, the YouTube comments for this clip of Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey goofing around were rife with haterade. Though I guess the same could be said for anything on YouTube.
Of course, I'd be remissed if I didn't close out with one of the most enduring images in Strikeforce history. The nationally televised spectacle that ruined "one of the biggest opportunities ever for MMA," according to Frank Shamrock, and the moment Scott Coker once called his "low point as a martial arts promoter." (For anyone curious, check out part one and part two of this fantastic Strikeforce retrospective to hear the story retold by both men.)
ALDO-FABER, VOL. 2
Dan Henderson (@danhendo) January 13, 2013
I would not want to be Nate Marquardt's leg right now! Holy shit!!!— Dana White (@danawhite) January 13, 2013
James Terry (@JamesTerry_USH) January 13, 2013
NEVER ANY DOUBT
Staring trying to take Cormier down is like a Criminal trying to rob a police department . STUPID #Strikeforce— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunsonMMA) January 13, 2013
Just think @mattmitrione, that could have been you tonight. What a wasted "opportunity"— Sean McCorkle (@BigSexyMcCorkle) January 13, 2013
This looks like an NFL linebacker vs his middle school football coach— Gerald Harris (@GHurricane) January 13, 2013
Dion staring put up a bigger fight than the Green Bay packers did tonight.— Ulysses Gomez (@uselessgomez) January 13, 2013
Congratz to @dc_mmahe's a great fighter proud to fight such a champion. I have learned a lot and will be back stronger— Dion Staring (@DionStaring) January 13, 2013
ET TU, DANIEL?
THE MAN KNOWS HOW TO CUT A PROMO
Josh Barnett always has the most entertaining post fight speech. I was cracking up!— Patrick Healy (@BamBamHealy) January 13, 2013
You youngsters need to drill that josh Barnett off the fence take down 10,000 times. #oldlion— Conor Heun (@ConorHeun) January 13, 2013
All those muscles did a lot of good against the baby fat assassin— Ian McCall (@Unclecreepymma) January 13, 2013
Every time Barnett is on the mic , I'm looking around waiting for Rick Flair's music to come on ! #Strikeforce— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunsonMMA) January 13, 2013
We should just get rid of judges and flip a coin to see who won!!!— Dana White (@danawhite) January 13, 2013
FIGHTERS OF THE YEAR
My new fav pic ever with the one and only jonnybones instagr.am/p/UZkfG_BEby/— Ronda Rousey (@RondaRousey) January 12, 2013
I can say without a shadow of a doubt I did not inject Nandrolone into my body. I am sorry to my family and friends for the shame this...— joey beltran (@mexicutioner760) January 11, 2013
Brought to any of you. I promise soon the whole story will be told and I will go through whatever is necessary to find the reason for this..— joey beltran (@mexicutioner760) January 11, 2013
Positive test. I am at fault for taking a supplement or perhaps combination of something that caused my test result. My team and I will ...— joey beltran (@mexicutioner760) January 11, 2013
Seek the truth. I am sorry once again and truly apologize to the people that matter the most to me.- Joey Beltran— joey beltran (@mexicutioner760) January 11, 2013
FOREVER A MOM
What's with all of these people saying they want to beat my little pumpkin @rondarousey How rude!— DrAnnMaria (@DrAnnMaria) January 14, 2013
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JOEY B
Joseph Benavidez (@JoeJitsu) January 13, 2013
WELL, THAT'S DISAPPOINTING
ONE LAST SENDOFF
Cung Le (@CungLe185) January 13, 2013
Watching #strikeforce and I feel sad lol it's all coming to an end, but when one door closes another door opens I suppose— Miesha Tate (@MieshaTate) January 13, 2013
Sarah Kaufman (@mmasarah) January 13, 2013
Julie Kedzie (@julesk_fighter) January 13, 2013
Thanks for signing me early in my career with few fights , the exposure on the big stage & memories Strikeforce . Much love ! - DB— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunsonMMA) January 13, 2013
Tim Kennedy (@TimKennedyMMA) January 13, 2013
Thank you strikeforce fans and showtime for all the great fights!I've enjoyed this journey more than u know!— Scott Coker (@cokersf) January 13, 2013
Announced over the weekend (Friday, January 11, 2013 - Sunday, January 13, 2013):
- UFC on FOX 6: Josh Janousek (8-1) vs. Michael Kuiper (12-1)
FANPOST OF THE DAY
Today's Fanpost of the Day sees MikeWellman88 return with: Winners & Losers From The Final Strikeforce Show
Most Dominant In Victory: Josh Barnett
Barnett stopped Nandor 'The Hun' in just two minutes and ten seconds. Barnett was a late arrival to fight week due to illness, and as he mentioned post-fight, he was impacted by the 'plague lords' during his fight camp. Being sick and not wanting the fight to go into deeper waters must be a real motivator, because Barnett went in there like a man possessed(perhaps by the aforementioned plague lords), taking down Nandor Guelmino after just twelve seconds of fighting. With cards like this, with a well known, top 10 heavyweight facing a relatively unknown, unranked opponent, it is tough to say of all the main card winners, aside from Saffiedine, who really had the toughest opposition. I'm giving this one to Barnett out of sheer determination, no matter how unworthy of an opponent Guelmino may have been.
Most Confused By What Tapping Means: Referee Don Turnage
With one minute left in the first round, Mousasi had a rear-naked choke sunk in and Mike Kyle tapped to it. The referee reflexively moves in closer to the action, seemingly to waive it off and get Mousasi to unsink that bad boy, and right before placing his hand on the fighter to signify the end, simply allows the action to continue a little longer. Maybe he thought that Kyle sort of recanted his tap, and wanted another chance. Maybe he thought that there is a certain number of official tap motions required. The plague lords may be the only ones who know why this eggregious error occured. Either way, Mousasi sunk it in again, and Kyle, most likely going thru a weird oxygen-lacking deja vu, tapped again.
Loser Most Deserving Of A UFC Contract: KJ Noons
The KJ Noons/ Ryan Couture fight was a great example of the conundrums that face judges. The question arose of what gets a higher value and what gets you a winning round. Is it damage, and accuracy? Or volume and activity? The Fightmetric stats show that Ryan Couture threw more strikes, but had a lower percentage of landed strikes. Couture was also the only fighter to attempt takedowns, landing none of his three tries. KJ was a little more conservative, but landed the harder shots. He did more damage. The old litmus test of a fighter's post-fight mug also favors KJ. I have my doubts about whether the Oklahoma judges were able to identify that the damage on Noons' foreheard was due to an accidental headbutt, and shouldn't have factored into their decision. Even UFC president Dana White was tweeting his disagreement with the decision, which lends itself to the idea that we might see both of these guys in the UFC.
Most Likely To Stand A Chance Against Jon Jones: Daniel Cormier
This category doesn't really apply to many fighters on the card, but I couldn't look past the fact that Daniel Cormier declared his intention to kick the ass of a fighter thought to be one of the best ever. And unlike most other challengers to Jon Jones, this one is very, very plausible. Cormier has a wrestling pedigree unlike anyone Jon Jones has ever faced, and that has been a huge strength for the champion thus far. Jones almost has a sort of pre-fight certainty in his demeanor these days, I might too, if I had dispatched of so many legends the way he has. I don't see that same certainty occurring if we do see Cormier vs Jones take place.
A lot can be said, and has been a lot this past week, about the ups and downs of Strikeforce, and Saturday night was a great night for a lot of fighters, putting an exclamation point on the Strikeforce chapter of their careers, and providing the momentum and buzz needed to set most of them up for success in the UFC. With Jacare, and hopefully Tim Kennedy coming in at 185 lbs, and Mousasi and Cormier injecting new challenges into the 205 lbs division, the future is looking bright for the men who left Oklahoma City with a W.
Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.